Little Ringneck Dove Bell (along with her healthy mate Reed) came in to our care in December with a big problem- torticollis (a neurological movement disorder characterized by a twisted neck and tilted head) so severe that it triggered violent tumbling panic attacks resembling seizures. Her terrible fits battered and bruised her little body, breaking feathers, abrading skin, exhausting her, threatening her future. She needed very special care to help reduce the fits and support her long recovery. (See Little Bell’s Big Problem)
Luckily, Palomacy supporter Carole, a life-long rescuer in town for an extended stay, was willing and able to take on Bell’s extremely challenging care. Because Carole is from Ireland, we call her Bell and Reed’s foster mum.
Carole bravely took on a very nerve-wracking responsibility. Despite pain meds and antibiotics, Bell’s tumbling fits were, in the beginning, almost uncontrollable. Between them, she would eat or rest, but we never knew when another one would start and they were terrible. Such a fragile little bird- whirling and banging herself silly no matter how thickly we padded her area.
Carole was very creative in crafting ways to swaddle, soothe and protect Bell.
The floor of her crate was raised to make it cozier and the interior was padded and draped with soft, breathable fabrics to provide dark, quiet sanctuary. (Open space worsened her disorientation and increased panic attacks.)
And Bell was (and still is) so clever about self-sequestering when she needed to steady herself. She’d go back into the depths of the draped cloths to get peace from the panic attacks and come out to the slightly more open front when she felt well enough.
Carole worked with Bell to help her get exercise and enrichment and she did a sort of “dove occupational therapy” so that Bell could remaster her neurological system and create new, healthier-functioning pathways in her tortured little brain.
And while Carole nursed frail Bell, she also helped lonesome Reed to get through a very stressful time. She befriended him (he wasn’t tame when he came in) and soothed his broken heart. He had to be housed separately from Bell (her fits scared him and he could sometimes be aggressive) but he was always near her.
And Carole became an important new friend for him, and he for her.
When it came time for foster mum Carole to return to Ireland at the end of January, I took Bell and Reed back in to my foster care. Bell had very slowly but very surely improved and I was really worried that the transition and/or loss of Carole’s special care could set her back.
Bell visiting Reed in his cage and sharing a snack of millet on 1/30/15 .
Bell, markedly improved, having another visit with Reed on 2/7/15.
Intrepid little Bell did great though. She adjusted to the new routine and company without a hitch and she is still improving. Even today, 3/11/15, she is better than she was yesterday.
Bell’s condition is continuously improving and her life is expanding as it does.
We don’t know what caused Bell’s terrible torticollis. We can rule out a tumor because that would have gotten worse rather than better. Some think PMV but she’s never had the impaired motor control or palsy that is typically seen with that so I’m not convinced. Whatever caused Bell’s condition, it has left Reed completely unscathed. We hope that someday soon, they can move back in together, resume their romance and put this long ordeal behind them. Thank you all for helping us help Bell and Reed and all the other little birds. They want to live.
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